Smart Nutrition Notes – May 2016
Stubborn pounds to lose?
It’s mid-May and finally spring is here in Southwestern NH. The leaves are just starting to unfurl, the birds are very busy, and the days are decidedly longer. Summer is right around the corner which always makes me yearn for those carefree childhood midsummer adventures.
Most years’ summer is gone before it starts. This year I think we should take it back! Think of the things that were really fun and maybe a little daring we did as kids. Then find a way to reenact them in our adult life like underwater hand stands at the beach, hiking up a mountain or going camping for the weekend. Whatever floats your boat. Just make some plans now before it’s late August and the summer light starts to wane and you are left wondering, “What happened to the summer?”
It will be good for your soul which is always great to help manage your stress!
Are You Weight Loss Resistant?
But it’s important to understand that the old calories-in/calories-out model doesn’t tell the whole tale because it doesn’t take into consideration several variables that can affect fat loss. It’s no longer just about dieting and calories. It’s also about knowledge, about nutrition and about self.
If you are struggling with an inability to lose the expected 1 to 2 pounds of fat a week, there are some things you need to know about your lifestyle and eating habits which could be keeping you from making the progress you would like.
Some lifestyle considerations include chronic stress, inadequate sleep, thyroid issues, toxicity, food sensitivities, alcohol consumption, poor digestion and poor food choices.
Let’s start with stress. The fight or flight response is an innate response which is hardwired to help you survive, such as getting out of the way of an oncoming car when it is headed right at you. But when you are “on” all the time stress becomes more chronic.
When it does; cortisol, the stress hormone, can get out of whack. High circulating levels of cortisol break down muscle and increase fat storage, especially in the belly area. While low cortisol levels cause us to feel completely exhausted and emotionally wrung out. In the modern world we live in with constant noise, light and pressure, it’s difficult to have balanced cortisol levels.
You will also notice when you are stressed you crave foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt. This can make the situation even worse. Blood sugar fluctuation from high sugar foods increases the hormone cortisol. To help you manage your blood sugar levels, eat a breakfast with protein within an hour of rising, try to incorporate protein in all your meals and avoid more than a 4 to 5-hour gap between meals and snacks.
Too much cortisol in the blood also causes our blood fats and blood pressure to increase so choosing foods that contain poor quality fat and/or salty foods is completely the wrong choice, but our brains move us toward those foods when we are stressed.
There are also some great foods which can help to blunt the stress response. Whole grains, for example help to increase serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter. Fatty fish is another great stress buster because it is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids which decrease the inflammation accompanied by stress and also help with mood. In addition to being a healthy fat, avocados are a great source of potassium which helps to control blood pressure. Other good foods that you should turn to when stressed include green leafy vegetables for the magnesium, good sources of vitamin C like citrus fruit, strawberries, peppers and tomatoes, as well as nuts for the B complex vitamins and believe it or not—dark chocolate.
Of course when it comes to dark chocolate it’s all about being conscious of portion size. So a piece will do instead of a bar! But seriously, dark chocolate can help to manage your cortisol levels and your insulin levels so it’s a two for one! If you pick dark chocolate at 85% or higher, the richness of the flavor will help you to manage your portion. Plus, be mindful and take the time to savor that piece of heaven.
Learning how to manage your stress more effectively — whether it’s through yoga, reiki, meditation, prayer, or just spending time with a pet or someone you love — should be a high priority for someone who is challenged with weight resistance.
Stay tuned for our newsletter next month where we will talk about other lifestyle issues that can lead to weight loss resistance.